ITE HCMC 2014

ITE HCMC 2014

Monday, 30 April 2012

New International Airport in Atlanta is Gateway to the World


Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal
Atlanta's new International Airport is in the final construction stages. The Maynard H. Jackson Terminal is expected to open in late spring 2012 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The $1.4 billion dollar terminal will have 12 new gates exclusively for international flights to simplify the process of arriving in Atlanta.  No longer will Atlanta-bound international travelers be required to re-check their luggage after clearing customs. "With the world's busiest airport and the world's second largest airline, getting to Atlanta was already easy," said William Pate, president and CEO of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.  "The Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal will take advantage of Atlanta's geographical advantages to capture additional international visitation."

Positioned at the apex of Europe and Latin America, Atlanta is the gateway to the world.  Already offering direct flights to 165 destinations in Central and South America, as well as 115 destinations in Europe, Atlanta is one of the top launching pads to the world.  With a new international terminal, Atlanta can accommodate more international flights.

The city is already seeing a boost in international visitation with a 25 percent spike in 2010.  Over the next five years, overseas visitation to the United States is expected to rise 54 percent.

The opening of the new terminal coincides with a push from the United States to increase international visitation. Brand USA, a $200 million marketing campaign designed to attract international travellers, has the potential to bring an additional $859 billion in economic output to the U.S by 2020.  On top of that, President Obama recently called for the state department to streamline the visa process for international visitors, which could make getting to the U.S. a reality for many overseas travelers.
Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal
The Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal is part of a $5.4 billion development program which will expand, repair and upgrade designated areas within the airport's facilities.

Established in 1913, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit organization created to favourably impact the Atlanta economy through conventions and tourism.

Russia Attracts More Tourists from India

India
More Russian tourists are traveling to India since visa regulations have bee made easier last year.

The Indian Embassy in Moscow has started issuing six-month multiple-entry visas for Russian tourists instead of one-month single entry visas since June 2011. They have also reduced the issuance period from two weeks to three days.

The Indian Embassy in Moscow issued about 150,000 visas last year, a rise of 24 per cent from 2010, and a significant increase from 54,000 Russian visitors in 2006. The trend is set to continue this year, with Russian arrivals in January/February 2012 recording a 20 per cent year-on-year growth.

Russia
Arun Varma, managing director, Allways Travel New Delhi, said: “Russia and some of the CIS countries have emerged as a major source market for Indian inbound, and because of their disposable income, the volume and receipts from these markets will continue to grow.”

Goa, which is frequented by Russians, received 133,000 Russian visitors last year. Between January 1 and April 15 this year, 520 out of 910 charter flights to Goa were from Russia, bringing 95,000 tourists.

Goa India
Other destinations popular with Russian tourists include the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur route, Kerala, Kulu-Manali and Haridwar-Rishikesh in north India, Odisha in the east, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the south.

To augment the growing Russian inbound market, the Indian government will open a tourism marketing office in Moscow later this year.

Abu Dhabi Hosts Roadshows In China to Promote Tourism

Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, the capital and 2nd largest city in the United Arab Emirates, will attract mire tourists from China after they have visited China with their roadshows. These helped promote the the many features of Abu Dhabi to Greater China.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (ADTCA) held its inaugural Chinese roadshow from April 9 – 17 in five major cities in China: Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Beijing
According to Mubarak Rashed Al Nuaimi, international promotion manager, ADTCA, the nine-day roadshow served as a platform to drive business interactions between Chinese outbound travel consultants and hotels, airlines, attractions and destination management companies based in Abu Dhabi.

A total of 11 Abu Dhabi tourism stakeholders and nearly 800 Chinese travel consultants participated in the roadshow, which will become an annual affair, said Al Nuaimi.

“The Chinese market is growing and the world’s first Ferrari World theme park (in Abu Dhabi) has been a big draw. In 2011, the number of Chinese visitors to Abu Dhabi increased by 29.6 per cent compared to the same (period) in 2010. We expect similar growth for this year given new flight connections,” he said.

Chengdu
Last December, Etihad Airways commenced four direct weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Chengdu. In

March this year, the national carrier launched a Shanghai (Pudong)-Abu Dhabi route with five-weekly flights, which has been boosted to a daily service from April 16.

ATEC Annual Symposium Conference Crucial

ATEC's Annual Symposium Conference
ATEC's annual Symposium Conference is being held on from the 2 - 4 May on the Sunshine Coast, NSW, Australia  with a strong line-up of speakers, discussions and industry insights.

Managing Director, Felicia Mariani, said "ATEC's annual Symposium has been a crucial B2B event on the industry calendar for decades, bringing together tourism operators and the distributors who help sell their product to the international market and it continues to be a vital place for business development."

Ms Mariani said nearly 350 industry delegates were registered for this year's event, to be held on the Sunshine Coast at Coolum Golf and Spa.  ATEC's Symposium Workshop Day will kick off the conference on Wednesday 2 May with over 40 individual meetings connecting suppliers with distributors.

Eumundi Markets
"The main conference program will take place over two days and, of particular note, is a very special panel discussion on the future of tourism and the pressures coming from the mining industry. Our panelists, including the Federal Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, Tourism Queensland's CEO, Anthony Hayes, Queensland Resources Council boss, Michael Roche, Quadrant Australia's Peter Lloyd and Wotif.com's CEO, Robbie Cooke, will present their perspectives and ideas for how we might work together as complimentary, rather than competing industries."

Sunshine Coast Destination CEO, Steve Cooper extended a warm welcome to the tourism industry members from around the country who will attend Symposium."We are honored to host ATEC Symposium 2012 and we welcome the tourism export industry particularly those that have never visited our naturally refreshing Sunshine Coast.

Noosa Main Beach
"The event provides a perfect opportunity to display the best of our region including a Destination Showcase event to be held at Noosa Main Beach on the Thursday morning. This new format for the program will combine our rich diversity of local cuisine, artisans, products and demonstrations to encapsulate the region's unique lifestyle. We have been working hard with our local surf movement, Seasons of the Sun, Eumundi Markets and Noosa Farmers Market to provide an unparalleled experience for delegates.

"Hosting this major tourism event is timely as the destination starts its journey towards maturity," added Mr Cooper.  

Visit: www.atec.net.au  for more information on the conference program.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

'The Queen's Jubilee Menu' at The Capital Hotel

 'The Queen's Jubilee Menu'
2012 is a special year in the U.K. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics are the major events to be celebrated. The Capital Hotel is one of the few hotels in London still family-run and remaining true to British character and design. This is a "grand hotel in miniature" in an oasis of peace and tranquillity.
Between the 1st and 10th June 2012 the restaurant and private rooms will offer the Queen's Jubilee Menu.   This will comprise of the exact same dishes enjoyed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on a visit to The Capital Restaurant, namely seared scallops ceviche, deep fried crab & cucumber jelly; fillet of lamb in black olive crust, cumin jus & lightly spiced couscous and to finish poached pear with vanilla crème brûlée. The price is £60 per person, available at both lunch and dinner.

 The Capital Hotel
There can be no finer British tradition than afternoon tea and The Capital will be honouring the Olympics by complementing its normal award-wining fare with a rather fine sporting theme (pictured above).  Dumbbells (passion fruit ganache in Valhrona chocolate shell), Winners' Podium (glazed lemon sponge),  Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals (Valhrona chocolate button on a poppy seed and ginger sable biscuit), Olympic Flame (banana cream rippled through with a raspberry coulis and adorned with a white chocolate flame) and Basket Ball (glazed carrot cake) will all be served alongside delicate sandwiches, home-made scones served with clotted cream and their own jam.                                                                 

Served in The Sitting Room between 2.30pm and 5.30pm, from 25th June (beginning of Wimbledon) until 9th September (end of the Para Olympics), the price of this winning offering is just £25 per head.

The Sitting Room
Over the Jubilee Celebrations The Capital's "Best of British" theme continues with its halls decked with stunning arrangements of indigenous English flowers.  These amazing floral displays will be created by Hayford & Rhodes, one of London's oldest family florists. Established in 1924, the company has passed through three generations and is now managed by sisters Amy, Laura and Joanna Rhodes. The girls and their team of designer florists love to use characteristically English blooms and enjoy blending classic and contemporary styles to create a uniquely British look.

Swiss-BelHotel International tp Open More Hotels in Middle East


Swiss-BelHotel International
The Swiss-BelHotel International will feature at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) for the first time this year. In doing so it has announced the opening of four new hotels for Middle East portfolio; a duo of Oman signings, foothold in Saudi Arabia, and an exciting four-star property earmarked for Iraq as reconstruction drives demand for quality accommodation

The first to be developed will be The Beach Bay Hotel by Swiss-Belhotel Muscat; a 32-room boutique property located in the heart of the Omani capital’s diplomatic quarter. The property will complete its reflagging programme in June 2012 and will offer two restaurants, meeting facilities and easy access to the nearby Shatti Al Qurum pristine Beaches.

Staying in Oman, a deal to develop a new Swiss-Belexpress Muscat, located in the central business district with 95 guestrooms, has also been signed. The property is scheduled to open in Q1 2013. Just a 15-minute drive from Seeb International Airport, it will offer a deli-coffee shop and express business centre.

Beach Bay Hotel Sharma
Elsewhere in the Gulf States, the group has more recently signed landmark resort property – the Swiss-Belresort & Spa Sharma – located in the emerging Tabuk region northwest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea. The resort is being developed in phases featuring the main hotel building, 27 fully fitted apartments, 17 day-use cabins and the All Day Dining restaurant set to open in late 2012, with phase two comprising 24 apartments Banqueting and Conference centre, SPA & Leisure facilities to be completed late 2013.

The Saudi resort will target the fast growing domestic leisure tourism and will offer a dedicated marina with a comprehensive diving centre incorporated into the resort’s footprint. It will feature a ladies beach club and spa built amidst lush landscaping including private BBQ areas, swimming pool and water features. Complementing facilities and services will also include a permanent conference and banqueting marquee, and a mosque on site.

Gavin Faull
Gavin Faull, President and Chairman, Swiss-Belhotel International, says both Oman and Saudi Arabia are key growth markets for the brand: “The addition of two new properties in Oman is confirmation of how strongly we believe in the continued economic growth of the Sultanate and the dynamic national programme put in place to promote large scale quality tourism.

“Our first venture into the Kingdom is a direct response to the Saudi government’s significant investment into nationwide tourist infrastructure and targets new emerging regions for tourism and hospitality.
“Swiss-Belhotel International is expanding rapidly on a global scale, with almost 25 new development projects in the Middle East and Asia Pacific and expectations of realising a hotel portfolio of close to 100 hotels by the end of 2012. Based on the success of our existing properties in Kuwait and Qatar, this region is a focal point for the brand moving forward,” he explained.

Completing the quartet of announcements, Swiss-Belhotel’s fourth project in the Middle East is a 108-key town centre property in the rapidly expanding city Erbil, in northern Iraq.

Swiss-Belhotel Erbil
“We have eyed Iraq for quite some time and this hotel is essential addition to our strategic development plans for the Middle East. The team is aggressively focusing on new developments in this region and to soon open our first property in this historic city in Iraq is another milestone for the company,” remarked Faull.
Swiss-Belhotel Erbil, which is due to open in 2013, is a five-minute drive from the city’s international airport, and in close proximity to the central business district as well as major local attractions and retail centres.
Facilities will include an all-day-dining-restaurant and bar, lounge, deli, speciality restaurant, pool bar, rooftop shisha lounge, 300-square-metre meeting space, business centre, boutique and travel agency. Recreational facilities include a swimming pool and 285-square-metre state-of-the-art spa and fitness centre with a hammam facility.

“Erbil is a historic city and the up-and-coming capital of Kurdistan, as well as being home to many government agencies as well as a growing number of international companies involved in the country’s regeneration programme, which presents exciting opportunities within the hospitality sector, and for recognised quality-driven international brands such as Swiss-Belhotel,” said Magdi Samman, Regional Director of Operations & Development, Swiss-Belhotel Middle East.

Swiss-Belhotel Plaza Kuwait
Swiss-Belhotel International currently manages the Swiss-Belhotel Plaza Kuwait, a four-star 153-room property located in the Safat central business district; and the 165-room Swiss-Belhotel Doha, situated directly opposite the popular Museum of Islamic Art and within walking distance of the city’s vibrant Corniche and Souk Waqif.

Furthermore, the international hospitality company also presently operates six deluxe midscale resorts throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“Swiss-Belhotel International has grown steadily despite turbulent political and economic times in many of the regions. We have grown by listening to our investors, gauging local issues and opportunities and delivering on our guests’ expectations. Through all this growth our philosophy has been constant: to enfold our guests, exceed their expectations, and drive financial success.” added Faull.

Swiss-Belhotel International
Swiss-Belhotel International is a rapidly expanding international management company with over 80 hotels, resorts and projects globally. Founded in 1987 and headquartered in Hong Kong (SAR), Swiss-Belhotel International manages properties in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East including China, Vietnam, Phillippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Swiss-Belhotel International has twice been awarded Indonesia’s Leading Global Hotel Chain 2010/2011 and 2011/2012, and most favourite 4-star hotel. Swiss-Belhotel International’s rapid expansion will see substantial growth in the Middle East as well as a focus on growth in China. For more information, please refer to the Group website, www.swiss-belhotel.com.

For more information contact:
Thomas Billinghurst,Account Executive, Shamal Marketing Communications,Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Email: Thomas@smc-pr.com

Tourism Australia to Launch Latest Campaign In China

Andrew McEvoy
Tourism Australia has will launch the next phase of its global advertising campaign in China - Australia's fastest and highest value visitor market.

The updated creative promotion campaign, which includes a new broadcast ad, will be shown first in Shanghai in early June.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said: "The real test and true success of any campaign is how it performs with consumers in key international markets. The new campaign creative will be first shown in China but roll out to 25 countries in 17 languages and continue the globally successful There's nothing like Australia pitch.As part of the tourism industry's push to double overnight visitor expenditure to up to A$140 billion by 2020, Tourism Australia is focused on marketing Australia's unique tourism attributes where the greatest tourism growth opportunities exist. China is a big part of that growth and is the logical place to launch the new creative."

542,000 Chinese visited Australia during 2011, representing almost 20 per cent growth compared to 2010 and the number is expected to exceed 600,000 visitors in 2012.

Not only are the Chinese visiting in record numbers, they are also spending at record levels. Current overnight expenditure from China is up 15 per cent, to A$3.8 billion per annum. Tourism Australia believes the China market has the potential to grow to over A$9 billion by 2020.

There's nothing like Australia
He said that while the agency would still strongly support its vital traditional markets of the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand and Continental Europe, it had to align its resources to its biggest growth markets, in this, the Asian Century

The response to Tourism Australia's There's nothing like Australia campaign so far in China has been better than anywhere else overseas, with over 90 per cent seeing it confirming they had started researching a future trip to Australia.

"Coming off such a solid platform, we are confident that the evolution of the campaign with new creative, using rich digital applications and modern, relevant images of Australia, will continue to hit the mark in China and encourage strong visitation and spending, including from fast developing key secondary cities," Mr McEvoy said.

Tourism Australia's decision to use China to launch the campaign is supported by recently published research revealing that the biggest opportunities for Australian tourism to tap into the country's increasingly affluent and travel hungry middle classes may lie in its vast and numerous secondary cities.

The study - carried out by research consultancy GfK Blue Moon - represents the first time Tourism Australia has been able to gain comprehensive insights into the travel behaviour and preferences of consumers living in China's tier two cities such as Chengdu, Tianjin, Chongqing and Wuhan.

There's nothing like Australia
"The great news is that Chinese travellers' strongest preference is Australia as their most desired long haul destination. Importantly, the research also identifies a high degree of consistency in consumer behaviour and trends across both China's largest primary cities and these emerging secondary cities. That is an immensely exciting, if initially daunting prospect for our industry. In the absence of significant differences between our target customers in both its super cities and emerging metropolises we have a fantastic opportunity to build upon the very successful platform already created through our existing tourism campaign work in China. This will allow us to achieve some significant economies of scale as we seek to expand our marketing across what is a vast and still largely untapped market."

Mr McEvoy stressed that launching in China did not mean that Australians would miss out on the new campaign."We will of course undertake significant domestic campaign activity and Australians will get to see the new broadcast ad on TV, in the cinema and online and in new media platforms at the same time we do the big reveal in Shanghai," Mr McEvoy said.
There's nothing like Australia
The new phase of Tourism Australia's There's nothing like Australia campaign will build on an already successful and established platform and take it a step further by specifically focusing on quality, highlighting the very best attractions, experiences and product that Australian tourism has to offer.

May Fun Festivals in Western Australia

V8 Supercars Trading Post Perth
Western Australia has a lot of Festivals in May that celebrate the life of the local communities that organise them. The good thing is that these Festivals are for the local and visiting people from other parts of Western Australia, the other states and territories in Australia, and from around the world.

V8 Supercars Trading Post Perth Challenge

May 4 - 6
The action-packed V8 Supercars Trading Post Perth Challenge will see championship motorsport personalities return to a significantly different venue at Barbagallo in 2012. As part of a phased approach to the redevelopment of the track, the V8s will be operating out of a state of the art pit and garage facility. A pedestrian bridge to the new infield paddock area will add an exciting dimension to the event in 2012. W: www.perth.v8supercars.com.au

SunSmart Busselton Festival of Triathlon

SunSmart Busselton Festival of Triathlon 2012

May 4 - 6
The SunSmart Busselton Festival of Triathlon 2012 is an internationally recognised event attracting participants and supporters from around the world. Featuring more than 2,000 competitors every year, it consists of a 113.1-kilometre swim, ride and run throughout the Geographe region. The festival also hosts a retail expo, kids triathlon, charity breakfast and athlete visits to schools.W: www.busseltonhalf.com

The 2012 Stretch Festival

The 2012 Stretch Festival

May 3, 5 - 6
Head to Mandurah 3-6 May for the Mandurah Stretch Festival. The event promises to be filled with art, entertainment and community activities with a focus on community bonding and features live entertainment, art exhibitions and markets, public workshops and performances. The Stretch Festival promises to be an event that will entertain and excite the whole family.

Halls Creek Music Festival

Nguyuru Waaringarrem Halls Creek Music Festival

May 19
The Nguyuru Waaringarrem Halls Creek Music Festival offers a diverse program of music performances by Kimberley artists, music workshops, song competitions, food stalls, and activities for children and young people. Enjoy a weekend of music in one of WA's most remote outback destinations in the heart of the Kimberley.

Shark Bay Annual Fishing Fiesta

Shark Bay Annual Fishing Fiesta

May 12 - 18
Shark Bay's biggest event sees fishers and families celebrate community life on the coral coast. Sitting inside one of WA's extraordinary World Heritage Areas, the Shark Bay Annual Fishing Fiesta offers a street parade, drink-can regatta competitions, market day, nightly fish weigh-ins and a dazzling fireworks finale.

3 Waters Marathon

May  13
Bunbury's beautiful Leschenault Inlet, Koombana Bay and the Indian Ocean will set the scene for the 31st annual 3 Waters Marathon. Competitors from Perth, the South West and across Australia, plus Bunbury's Japanese sister city Setagaya, will run and walk in a series of gruelling individual and team marathons of up to 50 kilometres.

Ningaloo Whaleshark Festival

Ningaloo Whaleshark Festival

May 25 - 27
The Ningaloo Whaleshark Festival marks the beginning of the whale shark season, welcoming the gentle giants back to the turquoise waters of Exmouth. Showcasing Western Australia's extraordinary Coral Coast, the festival features a family day in Federation Park with live entertainment, music, exhibitions and educational displays.

Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster

Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster
May 25 - June 3
Experience one of the most beautiful places on earth through this celebration of the East Kimberley region, highlighting its cultural diversity, stunning landscape and country hospitality. Event highlights include the Airnorth Kimberley Moon Experience concert, Waringarri Corroboree, bush tucker cooking, comedy night and the Barramundi Concert.

For more information about Western Australian, including events, visit www.westernaustralia.com.




Win a Californian Ski Adventure


United Airlines
What you win…
- United Airlines, 2 x return United Economy tickets from Sydney to California
- Visit California will provide 10-day car hire
- 3 nights accommodation at the Village at Squaw thanks to North Lake Tahoe Resort Association
- 2 x 3 day Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadow lift tickets thanks to North Lake Tahoe Resort Association
Village at Squaw
- 2 x round trip transfers on the North Lake Tahoe Express
- 3 nights accommodation at Embassy Suites South Lake Tahoe thanks to Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
- 3 nights at Northstar California lodging
- Lift tickets to Heavenly and Northstar thanks to Vail Resorts
- 2 nights accommodation at Mammoth Mountain Inn thanks to Mammoth Mountain
- 2 x 2 day Mammoth Mountain lift tickets thanks to Mammoth Mountain
- 3 nights at Northstar California Lodging

Embassy Suites South Lake Tahoe
For your chance to win this amazing overseas ski holidays, visit the Snow Travel Expo’s competition areas at Melbourne Exhibition Centre on Sunday May 20 or Sydney Exhibition Centre on Sunday May 27, 2012.

Back again in 2012 for its seventh year, The Snow Travel Expo is your ticket to great deals and a world of inspiration and information! The Snow Travel Expo brings over 50 global ski resorts to Australia and the latest ski and snowboard gear. It is your ticket to great deals and a world of inspiration and information.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Ironman Australia Triathlon at Port Macquarie

The Ironman Australia Triathlo
The fittest athletes in Australia will gather at Port Macquarie on Sunday 6 May when they battle it out at the 2012 Urban Hotel Group Ironman Australia Triathlon. The strength and will power of 1,550 competitors is put to the test for the coveted title.

The race starts at 6am from Westport Park in Port Macquarie’s CBD, NSW Australia where entrants take part in a 3.8km swim along the picturesque Hastings River, followed by a 180km ride and 42.2km run from the CBD following the Town Green foreshore and past pretty coastal beaches.

With thousands of athletes and their friends and family arriving into town, Greater Port Macquarie Tourism is encouraging visitors to get out and explore the region’s assets. The vibrant town centre is brimming with cafes, restaurants, shops, historical buildings and live performances at the cultural hub, The Glasshouse. Outside the CBD, there are 17 golden sandy beaches, lush hinterland, rainforest and waterfall nature walks – an ideal playground and the perfect place to unwind before or after the race.

The Ironman Australia Triathlon
“Port Macquarie offers one of the most stunning and exciting Ironman courses in the world, with the CBD, riverfront, and beautiful beaches all playing a part in the stage.” said Linda Hall, Tourism and Events Manager at Port Macquarie Tourism. “As a town of passionate, sports-loving people, the event has become a stead-fast highlight in the Port Macquarie calendar. The CBD is transformed into a cheering line from sunrise to sunset as competitors cross the finishing line, and the region is charged with excitement and enthusiasm.”

Tourist Attractions in Port Macquarie
Sea Acres Rainforest Centre
Sea Acres Rainforest Centre - the region’s iconic nature attraction has completed a huge facelift to include a new gift shop, administration area with extended restaurant and renewed rainforest experience along the 1.3km subtropical rainforest elevated walkway. Join a regular tour and discover how Aboriginal people used rainforest plants and the coastal environment through story, music and dance
A nature walk and bird watching in the CBD - a 3km walk along boardwalks in Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park covers 52 hectares of natural bushland, wetlands and mangroves in the heart of town and is home to 165 species of birds and wildlife. Or for beach views and a picnic spot take the 9km Coastal Walk to Lighthouse Beach

Eco History Cruising - enjoy the beautiful Hastings River by boat with Port Venture and learn about the area’s early history and unique natural environment

Bago Maze
Bago Maze - garden-lovers can get lost at Bago Vineyards which is opening the largest hedge maze in NSW in October 2012. See its growing construction now with 2000 metres of pathways at this beautiful hinterland winery located just 10minutes from Wauchope

The Koala Hospital - is the only wildlife hospital solely dedicated to the care, protection and conservation of wild koalas. Entry is free and there is a daily ‘Walk and Talk Tour’ every afternoon at 3pm

Amber Healing Farm - learn how food plays an essential part in a healthy life at this new Farm, a tranquil retreat with cooking classes, morning and afternoon teas, ‘health in a bag’ nutritious, organic food packs and healing sessions

Rock Pools and Walking Trails at Wilson River Reserve in the Willi Willi National Park is a perfect spot for the family with lovely picnic areas and a short ‘Waterfall Walk’ past a magnificent strangler fig to the Falls. Enjoy a swim in the rock pools below.

Boorganna Nature Reserve Located near Comboyne this is one of the oldest nature reserves in the state. Enjoy the walking trail to Rawson Falls Lookout and discover five types of forest along the way.

Boorganna Nature Reserve
For more information contact the Greater Port Macquarie Visitor Information Centre on 1300 303 155 or go online to www.portmacquarieinfo.com.au

For more information on the 2012 Urban Hotel Group Ironman Australia Triathlon go to http://www.ironmanaustralia.com

11th Annual Tok Tok Vanuatu Tradeshow

Vanuat
The 11th annual Tok Tok Vanuatu Tradeshow will take place on 29-31 August 2012. The Vanuatu Tourism Office has announced details of an exciting new format for the Tradeshow.

This year, Tok Tok Vanuatu will take place across three of Vanuatu's islands - Efate, Espiritu Santo and Tanna. A new format will allow industry partners more time to experience the new product on offer in Port Vila, as well as Vanuatu's outer islands, which are becoming increasingly popular with Australian travellers.

The event will begin with an industry forum in Port Vila on 29 August. Attendees will then have the option to select to travel to Tanna or Espiritu Santo on 30 August, where they will participate in site inspections, adventurous activities and an evening event. Tok Tok will conclude on 31 August with a product showcase and dinner in Port Vila.

 Tok Tok Vanuatu Tradeshow
Linda Kalpoi, General Manager, Vanuatu Tourism Office, believes this year's event will be a great success with the new format providing the opportunity for attendees to interact with the industry in Vanuatu while also seeing firsthand the innovations, updates, and product offerings which exist across Vanuatu's diverse archipelago of islands.

"We felt it was time to change the format to ensure we showcase more of Vanuatu to our international buyers, and the new format will give attendees more time to see what is on offer in Vanuatu. The forum on day one will also allow industry to discuss challenges and opportunities for the industry," Kalpoi said.

Vanuatu
Tok Tok Vanuatu is the premier trade event in Vanuatu bringing together agents, wholesalers and tourism operators to showcase Vanuatu's tourism industry which represents the major revenue earner for the country of over 230,000 people.

Registrations for Tok Tok will open on 30 April 2012 and will close on 30 June 2012.

For more information on Vanuatu please visit www.vanuatu.travel

The World’s Top 10 Alternative Olympic Sports

Greasy pole climbing
With under 100 days left to go to the Opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games, the Cheapflights.Com.Au website has issued its ideas for the world’s Top 10 Alternative Olympic Sports

The Olympic Games are coming up fast.To celebrate their near arrival, Cheapflights.co.au, the online travel deals website, has announced its favourite picks of alternative Olympic sports.

With athletes competing in 39 disciplines from across 26 sports, audiences may think they will see it all in London this summer. However, Cheapflights.com.au’s in-house experts, having spanned the globe in search of sports that aren’t on the Olympic radar and can confirm there’s a whole range of exciting competitions that would add some new dimensions to the Games.

From camel racing in Dubai to bun climbing in China and even Quidditch, the real life version inspired by Harry Potter – literally an entire world of competition awaits.

These are Cheapflights.com.au’s top 10 picks, two of which can be witnessed and enjoyed from right here in Australia.




Greasy pole climbing
Greasy pole climbing: This messy and challenging sport is a crowd favourite in a number of corners of the world including Indonesia, Brazil, the UK and the Caribbean, where, depending on the local tradition, competitors try either to shimmy up a vertical pole laden in grease or to reach the end of a slickened horizontal pole without first splashing into the sea. While grease-pole climbing made a one-time only appearance in the 1904 Olympics, the current the biggest stage for this sport is the Greasy Pole Competition, which takes place every year during St. Peter’s Fiesta in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Forty to fifty men aged between eighteen and sixty test the slipperiness and attempt to be the first to reach the end of the pole and grab the red flag. The pole is almost 14 metres (45 feet) long and can be anywhere from 3-7 metres (10-25 feet) from the sea at Gloucester Harbour. The pole is heavily greased with biodegradable axle grease and to make it extra slippery; anything from Tabasco sauce to banana peels are added. Due to the popularity of the contest, there are strict rules regarding who is eligible to walk on the pole. The event is currently held on Friday, June 29, Saturday, June 30, and Sunday, July 1 – always at 4:45pm.

Quidditch
Quidditch: Yes we mean the sport of Harry Potter and his friends. It’s played now in the “muggle” world with everything but the flying. Imagine instead people running astride broom sticks, working to get a ball through a hoop without getting smashed by an opponent aiming another ball at their heads, dodgeball style. Or chasing a gold-suited player darting around, carrying a sock stuffed with tennis balls, serving as the all-important “snitch,” which must be captured to end the match. This low-flying version of the game started at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005 and now plays out at more than 300 college and high school campuses across the US and 12 other countries, according to The International Quidditch Association, Inc., which also hosts the annual World Cup and is considering an exhibition match in London to coincide with the Olympics. 

Corn Hole
Corn Hole: Basically a hipper version of horse shoes, Corn Hole became the new standard for tailgating, barbecues and all other styles of outdoors parties throughout the U.S. after college students in the Midwest put it on the map. A one-handed sport, Corn Hole can be (and most often is) played without ever putting down your beer. However, true competitors of the sport, which is thought to be based on a game created by Native Americans, play in tournaments sanctioned by the American Corn Hole Association. There they vie in two-person or two-team matches, looking to rack up 21 points by landing more of their bean bags than their opponents on the raised board (1 point) or through the 15cm (6 inch) diameter hole at its centre (3 points) from 8 metres (27 feet) away. Prize money has been creeping up over the years and now can be as high as US$20,000.

Pumpkin Chunking
Pumpkin Chunking: Champions of this autumnal sport can send gourds more than 1,219 metres (4,000 feet) in the air. In fact, the World Record pumpkin flight is over a km long (1,690.24 metres or 5,545.43 feet to be exact). While Pumpkin Chunking happens, formally and informally, throughout the U.S., the biggest competition is held annually by The World Championship Pumpkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA) in Sussex County Delaware the first full weekend in November. The competition features catapults, air cannons, trebuchets and even human-powered categories for firing the pumpkins and also has youth and under 10 kids divisions. For aspiring fans, tune into the Science Channel, which airs the event on Thanksgiving Day proceeded by an hour-long special about the preparation for the World Cup called the “Road to the Chunk.”

Camel Racing
Camel racing: Forget the Melbourne Cup. Camel racing in the United Arab Emirates is now the place to be seen. This famous sport, which is popular throughout the Middle East as well as Australia and Mongolia, takes place every year, mostly from late October to early April. In the dusty desert, camels race along a sand track up to 16km long, while their owners drive alongside shouting and honking their horns to urge the camels forward. The louder the shouting, the faster they run. But be careful not to get in their way as anywhere from 15 to 70 camels can be racing at once and onlookers will want to avoid the stampede! Unlike horse racing, there’s no betting in camel racing, but, if the sport tickles your fancy, owning a winning camel can be a lucrative investment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The races usually take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and, while the morning races tend to be reserved mostly for sheikhs, the afternoon races are open to all.

Cheese Rolling
Cheese Rolling: If you’ve never heard of cheese rolling before, it may be fair to say that you might assume it’s a civilised event. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cheese rolling is anything but civilised. It’s a bone-crushing race where people run, stumble and slide down a steep hill to catch a massive roll of cheese. The most famous annual event is Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, held in Gloucestershire, UK, where competitors vie with massive Double Gloucester cheese rounds. The first person to grab the cheese wins and gets to take it home. The race, which dates back at least 200 years, traditionally takes place on the late spring bank holiday Monday in May, though that holiday is being moved to 4 June this year to add to the Queen’s Jubilee celebration weekend. Hundreds of participants, spectators and media flock to Gloucestershire from around the world for this unusual event.

Tuna Tossing
Tuna Tossing: The Tuna Tossing World Championship occurs annually at the Tunarama Festival in Port Lincoln, Australia. Men and women from 16 years up fight it out to toss their tuna the furthest, hoping to win a share of AU$3,000. Contestants can toss the 10kg frozen tuna in any way they want, so twirl, throw, fling and chuck that tuna to victory. But be warned, the record for the longest tuna toss of all time stretches for an enormous 25 metres, so competition is fierce! For younger tossing hopefuls between the ages of five and ten, the Tunarama Festival also holds an annual prawn toss.

Dunny Derby
Outhouse Racing: Rugged living leads to rowdy sports, or so it would seem given those who embrace the sport of Outhouse Racing. Found from the upper peninsula of Michigan and much of the upper mid-west and west in the U.S. through the Canadian Rockies and on into Alaska, this is a sport of hometown fun and foolishness. Aussies also have a turn at it, though here it is known as Dunny Racing. By either name, it’s a sport you can form a mental picture of quickly. Or possibly not. Here’s how it works in one Australian town: Every second year in September, the town of Winton in the outback of Queensland hosts the Sorbent Australian Dunny Derby. Twenty “dunny jockeys” sit astride dunnies on wheels pulled by a team of four to race to the finish line of a 250 metre track. All the jockeys are weighed in before and after each race and a professional race caller is present to call the race. Pick your favourite dunny and you can bet on it, although you may not win as much as the winning team, which is awarded AU$3,000. After the Derby has finished, everyone joins together to sing and dance to their favourite Country Music.

Cheung Chas Bun Festival
Bun Climbing: The annual Cheung Chas Bun Festival is held on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese calendar. Thousands of locals and tourists gather on the tiny fishing island of Cheung Chau to celebrate the festival and watch the bun climbing in amazement. The Bun Mountains are 60 foot tall steel structures covered with delicious, decorative steamed buns and bamboo scaffolding. Men compete in a race to climb up the towers and grab as many buns as possible. The person with the most buns wins. This peculiar sport shouldn’t be taken lightly though, as potential bun climbers must take a training course to learn basic mountaineering skills. At the end of the training period, twelve finalists are chosen to compete in the bun climbing competition. For safety reasons, fake buns are now used to stop the possibility of climbers slipping.

Buzkashi
Buzkashi: Literally translated, it means “goat grabbing.” As for how it’s played, well, imagine polo but with one slight modification. Both sports involve two opposing teams competing on horseback with the aim of manoeuvring an object into the scoring area. The only difference is that in Buzkashi you use the carcass of a goat or calf instead of a ball. These days, a calf is used more often than a goat as the carcass of a calf is more durable. This is a fiercely competitive sport and definitely not for the faint hearted. To be in with a chance to win, both the player and the horse must undergo long and strenuous training. Buzkashi is the Afghan national sport and the Afghan Olympic Federation has now implemented official rules for the game.

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